News story

Education Secretary Michael Gove sets out the next stage in a programme of reducing bureaucracy

Education Secretary Michael Gove announces that he has asked Ofsted to scrap the school Self Evaluation Form (SEF) process.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Education Secretary Michael Gove today announced another step in the lifting of the bureaucratic burden on heads and teachers. The school Self Evaluation Form (SEF) process takes days out of heads’ time and can cost schools tens of thousands of pounds. The Secretary of State has asked Ofsted to ditch it. It is the next stage in a rolling programme of reducing bureaucracy for teachers and trusting them to get on with their jobs.

The SEF asks teachers and heads to collect and verify facts and figures about their school in preparation for their Ofsted inspection. Headteachers say it can take many long hours to fill in and take teachers out of the classroom for extended periods. It can run to over a 100 pages once it has been filled in.

The Coalition Government has already taken several steps to reduce bureaucracy including:

  • freeing schools from local authority and national government control by allowing them to gain academy-style freedoms
  • abolishing three quangos that created vast additional bureaucracy for schools without proven benefit
  • reducing the burden on teachers and improving the quality of inspection by asking Ofsted to change their framework to focus on four principal areas: the quality of teaching, the effectiveness of leadership, pupils’ behaviour and safety, and pupils’ achievement.

This rolling programme will continue into the autumn as ministers engage with teachers and frontline staff on their plans to give them more power and remove the form-filling and bureaucracy that takes them away from the classroom.

Michael Gove said:

The Coalition government trusts teachers to get on with their job. That’s why we are taking steps to reduce the bureaucracy they face and giving them the powers they need to do a good job. We believe that teachers - not bureaucrats and politicians - should run schools.

The removal of the SEF was welcomed by teachers:

Kate Dethridge, Head of Churchend Primary School in Reading, said:

Removing the SEF will free up huge amounts of time - many heads spend most of their summer holidays updating the SEF, then you would need at least two or three senior management meetings to discuss it.

Amanda Whittingham, Assistant head of Wensley Fold School in Blackburn, said:

Just to update the SEF took up two full days of work for the head, deputy and a paid external consultant brought in as an expert on filling in the SEF.

Notes to editors:

  1. The Education Secretary today wrote to Christine Gilbert, Chief Inspector of Ofsted, and will set out his plans for the SEF in a speech today to FASNA (Foundation, Aided Schools and Academies National Association).
  2. The SEF was introduced in 2005.
  3. The SEF is designed around the current inspection evaluation schedule.
  4. Headteachers in particular, but also teachers and governors, will now be able to use their own approaches to reviewing the performance of their schools. This will free up many head/teacher days over the course of the year.
  5. The school system generally will benefit from the flexibility and freedom to tailor self evaluation to meet their particular needs, rather than a centrally determined one size fits all approach. This will place responsibility for self review firmly with the school.
  6. Schools will have access to the online SEF database provided by Ofsted for the coming academic year. They will be able to use any parts of the database they want to use in planning for their own tailored self assessment arrangements.

DfE media enquiries

Central newsdesk - for journalists 020 7783 8300

Published 23 September 2010